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Legal Representation
The Rome Statute provides for the rights of the accused and of the victims, but not for the organization of the legal representation. To fill the void, independent offices in charge of organizing legal representation for both defendants and victims were created. This is a new step in international criminal justice systems. The idea for such offices is one which arose in large part because of the interventions of NGO members of the CICC. The International Criminal Defence Attorneys Association and other Coalition members were concerned that the Statute did not provide sufficiently for the needs of the defense, and that this potential imbalance would prove to be a problem, as they perceive it to have been with the ad hoc tribunals. The Office of Public Counsel for the Defence was created in order to reinforce the equality of arms and to enable a fair trial within the meaning of the Rome Statute.

Adequate legal representation for victims is also necessary for the victims to exercise their right to participate in the proceedings, as provided for by the Rome Statute. The Office of Public Counsel for Victims seeks to ensure effective participation of victims in the proceedings before the Court.

NGOs have also been involved in consultations on the draft Regulations of the Registry and had the opportunity to share their concerns and provide input on the Regulations, including those related to legal representation for both victims and witnesses. Moreover, the ICC has organized seminars on counsel issues, with CICC members providing their expertise as to how the legal representation systems should work within the ICC.

Coalition members were extremely active in working towards the adoption of the Code of Professional Code for Counsel.

Finally, NGOs have also been actively engaged in providing trainings to members of the legal profession, particularly in situation countries. These trainings have focused on the ICC and its functioning. They are also often aimed at helping lawyers understand the rights of defendants and victims within the ICC proceedings, so as to enable them to get involved in the ICC process.

Lawyers who wish to practice before the Court, whether as duty counsel, ad hoc counsel, defence counsel or as legal representative of victims, must meet the criteria of admission to the List of Counsel created and maintained by the Registrar in accordance with Rule 21(2) of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence.

For more information on this issue and the NGO Team on Legal Representation, please contact Alix Vuillemin Grendel at vuillemin@coalitionfortheicc.org.